<br>Advising the Gujjar/Bakarwal community to follow the official advisory, Dr. Javaid Raju, noted tribal researcher and founder of tribal research and cultural foundation advised the tribal population to follow social distancing and avoid all types of religious, cultural and social congregations and rituals.
He appealed to the tribal population to delay their seasonal migration at least up to April 14 in view of lockdown and stay home for their safety and security.
As per the centuries-old tradition, Gujjars and Bakarwals start summer seasonal tribal migration in the first week of April every year to reach their destinations within a span of 40-45 days of foot journey.
Rahi has also sent a letter to Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu requesting him to direct the agencies to formulate a comprehensive plan in consultation with the local tribal elders to address tribal migration issues.
The letter says that the temperature is on rise in the plains of the Jammu region and the nomadic Gujjar, Bakerwal, Gaddi and Sippi tribes, as per their tradition, are set to start their seasonal migration with their herds of buffaloes, cows, horses, goats, sheep others towards the upper reaches of the Shivalik, Pirpanjal and Trikuta mountains in greater Himalayas.
Some of them have to migrate within their native districts, some have to move inter-district and a majority of them have to cross over to Kashmir and LadakhA to spend 5 months in pastures, Dhoks and Behaks.
The letter says for inter-province migration, tribes adopt migration routes, including the Jamiya Gali, Gora Batta, Nanansar, Ropadi Dharhal Pass, Banhal pass and Mughal Road. For migration towards Himachal Pradesh, they use Kukdi Top, Doda , and other routes.
The letter further says that if tribal migration does not start on time, there are apprehensions that hundred of thousands of sheep, goats and other animals will die as they cannot bear the hot weather. Some will die due to shortage of fodder.
The tribal communities constitute around 15 to 20% of the total population of J&K and them a large chunk of Gujjar, Bakarwal, Gaddi and Sippi who are pastoralists/nomads seasonally migrate to lower, middle and higher mountain ranges in the north-western Himalayan mountains bi-annually with animals.